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Salmonella

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is Salmonella?


 
Salmonella
Salmonellosis is a diarrheal illness caused by bacteria called Salmonella. There are many different kinds of Salmonella bacteria which can cause harm to humans. These microscopic organisms typically live in animals, such as poultry, livestock, reptiles, and household pets. Salmonella can quickly spread to humans by touching surfaces which have been contaminated with infected stool.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal cramping, headache, and fever. Symptoms usually develop from six to seventy-two hours after exposure. It is common for severe symptoms to last four to seven days.

How is it spread?

Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. Humans can become ill with Salmonella by eating foods which are contaminated with infected animal feces. Human hands are the primary way the bacteria are passed from person to person.

Pets can also be infected with Salmonella. Certain pets may have the germ in their stool, especially those with diarrhea. Snakes, pet turtles, lizards and iguanas are likely to harbor Salmonella even if healthy. People can become infected if they do not wash their hands after contact with the animal's stool or from handling reptiles.

Prevention

All meat and egg dishes should be thoroughly cooked. Avoid cross-contamination of food, especially raw fruits and vegetables, with raw meat juices. Hand washing after contact with animals can help prevent Salmonella. Chicks, ducklings, and all reptiles, which might be Salmonella carriers, are innappropirate pets for small children. THOROUGH HAND WASHING SHOULD BE EMPHASIZED, ESPECIALLY AFTER BOWEL MOVEMENTS, AFTER CHANGING DIAPERS, AND BEFORE EATING OR PREPARING FOOD.

Treatment

Salmonella infections usually resolve in 5-7 days and often do not require treatment other than oral fluids. Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydration with intravenous fluids. Antibiotics, such as ampicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or ciprofloxacin, are not usually necessary unless the infection spreads from the intestines. Some Salmonella bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, largely as a result of the use of antibiotics to promote the growth of food animals.

For more information regarding Salmonella please visit the Centers for Disease Control Salmonella web page.